Taking a leak outside in San Francisco just got a wee bit less fun. That’s because public works crews are coating walls throughout the city with a urine-repellent paint that bounces your pee right back at you.
Public urination has been a problem in San Francisco for years. The city banned urinating outside in 2002, imposing a $50-$500 (£32-£322) fine on anyone caught in the act, but this has done little to deter late night wizzards.
Now there’s a technological solution afoot. According to SF Gate, officials have just finished painting nine city walls with a hydrophobic coating that sprays urine back on your shoes and pants. More pee-proof walls are in the works. San Francisco got the idea from the German city of Hamburg, where urine-repellent paint has helped to dissuade beer drinkers who otherwise couldn’t be bothered to find a public toilets.
Whether this strategy will work for San Francisco is unclear. The issue of public urination is steeped in controversy because of the city’s large homeless population, whose bathroom options are obviously limited. As The Atlantic’s City Lab pointed out recently, “People who pee outside often would prefer to pee inside....if we don’t want them to pee on the street, we must provide alternatives.”